Tuesday 3 January 2017

How to Accept an Oscar

Today is the 110th birthday of the film star Ray Milland, born in Neath (as Alfred Reginald Jones) on this day in 1907. Before he was persuaded to try the acting business, the improbably handsome Milland had served in the Household Cavalry, becoming a proficient rider and pilot and an expert marksman - all useful Hollywood skills. Working his way up through the studio system, he had his big - huge - break with Billy Wilder's The Lost Weekend in 1945, playing an alcoholic writer. Milland was initially reluctant to take the part, fearing he wasn't up to 'serious acting', and initially he tried playing it while drunk, which was a disaster (you have to be sober to play a really good drunk - unless you're W.C. Fields or Frank Randle). But in the end Milland delivered a bravura performance in The Lost Weekend, and won a well deserved Oscar for it.
 Accepting the award from Ingrid Bergman at the 1945 ceremony, an ill-at-ease Milland gave one of the shortest acceptance speeches in the history of the Oscars - you can see it here in its entirety (along with other highlights of the ceremony). If only acceptance speeches were like that these days - though it has to be said that as recently as 1991 Joe Pesci managed something even shorter: 'It's my privilege. Thank you.'


  1. I love Ray Milland! I first saw him in Kitty, playing an 18th-century rake opposite Paulette Goddard, when I was a child and was instantly in love. In The Lost Weekend, I always relish the scene where Milland's alcoholic, dragged to La Traviata, stares thirstily at the stage footmen and flunkeys bringing in trays of champagne during the "Drinking Song."

  2. Yes, he had quite amazing screen presence, didn't he - those eyes... I haven't seen Kitty but can imagine him as a very convincing rake.
    Welcome aboard Foose - first-timer, I think?

  3. My lovely mum had a large photo of Milland pinned up inside her outside (and only) privy.